5 June – Cool ride to Kulmbach

We set off early again, although this was not really necessary, as it was wonderfully overcast and cool the whole day. It is a lot easier to ride in the cool.

According to Google and the open source map on the phone, today’s route should have taken 60km – however, we ended up riding 91km – due to meandering bicycle paths and a little sight-seeing ride through Kulmbach at the end of the day.

We had some wonderful wide smooth cycle paths today and we could ride alongside each other on long stretches.
The first part of the ride was fairly flat and through the Main river valley. We were nominally on the Main Radweg – though we lost it a few times due to construction on the roads disrupting it. At one point we rode along a brand new road – no traffic yet and really smooth. We crossed the river a few times, but otherwise you couldn’t really see the river from the cycle route – it was mostly through farmlands and small settlements. Lots of wheat and corn.

We hadn’t realised that today was a public holiday, and had remarked at how quiet it was in the towns first thing in the morning. We were planning to buy some bakery goods from a supermarket for breakfast, so it was quite a shock (for Jenny) when the first supermarket we came to was closed.

Jenny had to hold out until Lichtenfels at about 10.30am, where we found a small roadside stall with some seating, selling beer and bratwurst. There were already several men standing around drinking beers and smoking. A bratwurst with bread roll and mustard went down very well.
An hour or so later we found a bakery and cafe at an intersection. It was quite busy – it must have been one of the few places open – there were other cyclists and motor cycle tourists also stopped there – everyone was drinking coffee and eating pastries. We also enjoyed some coffee, cheesecake and nut pastry before setting off again well satisfied and with a takeaway pastry too.

We had a few more rolling hills before we came into Kulmbach, and the last part of the ride was all alongside the railway line.

It began to threaten to rain, with a few drops falling as we arrived into Kulmbach. One of the first things you see on entering the town is the brewery (Kulmbacher), which is huge. The other thing you notice is the castle up on the hill.

Beer crates next to the brewery

Brewery with castle in background

The old town is beautiful – nice and small with lovely old buildings – with lots of people sitting drinking beer and eating ice creams at outdoor cafes.

It began to rain properly just as we were leaving town for our accommodation about 2km away. We were quite damp by the time we found it. It is a small guest house (Landhotel Schwartzhof), next to some stables that breed thoroughbred horses and a beer garden. However it was all closed up when we arrived. Kris sent a text to the phone number posted on the door and soon a man stuck his head out an upstairs window and called to us. We were expected and he welcomed us in. The room is very beautiful – larger and more characterful than the last few more expensive rooms we staying in at more commercial hotels.

Here is a photo (from the next morning) showing how our bicycles slept overnight – in a stable alongside the horses.

We had a simple but good meal that evening and a lot of political discussion with the hotel owner and other guests. One was a retired cycle tourist, one a retired local (regular) and another a politician from Berlin!

We tried the smoked beer that they make in Bamburg – it is quite strange but not unpleasant.   The smoked taste comes from smoking the barley before brewing.

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